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VFL preview: Round 18

Cristian Filippo, Carlton Media  August 19, 2017 9:18 AM

VFL Highlights | Round 17 Watch the highlights from Carlton listed players in the Northern Blues' Round 17 loss against Casey.

A final home game in 2017 is in store for the Northern Blues today.

The Blues host Werribee at Preston City Oval in the penultimate game of the home-and-away season, with both sides needing a victory to keep their finals hopes alive.

A disappointing start came back to haunt the Blues last week in their trip to Casey Fields, and they'll come up against a hungry Tigers side.

It’ll be the fourth time the sides have met in 2017 alone, with two practice matches along with an entertaining affair in Round 9.

Werribee got the four points that day as it did late last season, with both teams scoring over 100 points on both occasions.

That blemish in Round 9 was the end of a six-match winning streak for the Blues, who will need to find that winning form again on the weekend.

The inclusions of Dennis Armfield, David Cuningham and Nick Graham will be vital in the midfield, while Daniel Gorringe and Kristian Jaksch add to the tall timber. The Blues also welcome debutant VFL-listed youngster Deven Costigan to the line-up.

After three weeks out of action, Cuningham returns to football via the VFL while Graham’s inclusion from suspension is a handy one for the Blues, who have missed his inside grunt in the last fortnight.

Exciting Carlton youngster David Cuningham returns from injury via the Northern Blues today. (Photo: Tim Murdoch)

There were positive signs despite the result last week against the Demons, with inaccuracy thwarting any chance of an unlikely comeback for the Blues.

While they need other results to go their way, a win would see Northern playing for their finals chances until the very last day of the season.

Back at Preston for the final time in the season, the Blues have enjoyed a strong home record compared to previous years and will be looking to go out with a bang on their own turf.

It was announced a fortnight ago that the game had been moved from the previously scheduled ground of Ikon Park due to ground maintenance.


Round 18 VFL
Werribee Tigers vs. Northern Blues
Preston City Oval
Saturday, August 19 — 1pm
Entry: $10 adults, $5 concession, children under-15 free
Northern Blues members enter free

Please note, Carlton Football Club members are only entitled to free entry for games at Ikon Park.

Kristian Jaksch: 
The swingman returns to the Northern Blues line-up after flying up to Perth as travelling emergency for Carlton last week. Fresh off eight goals in his last two VFL games, Jaksch is likely to line up again in the forward line and form a partnership with Jaylon Thorpe, who had an impressive debut last week. Jaksch will play a big part in the Blues’ ability to kick a winning score. He kicked three against Werribee the last time the sides met.

Matthew Korcheck: The American ruckman rose to the occasion of being the number-one ruck last weekend. With Daniel Gorringe now back in the side, Korcheck will have to keep up his form of the past fortnight, which has seen him rack up 89 hitouts in two weeks. With some big midfield inclusions, a big performance from Korcheck against Werribee ruck division without Todd Goldstein and Brayden Preuss will be a great start for the Blues.

Ciaran Sheehan: Sheehan scrapped well last week as part of a defensive unit which battled manfully against an early Casey barrage. Named in the back pocket, it’s expected Sheehan will spend time on Werribee veteran Lindsay Thomas, who has kicked 18 goals in seven VFL games in 2017. Northern’s defence has struggled to curtail Werribee in recent years: since 2013, the Tigers have averaged 120 points against the Blues across seven games.